David Rodeback's Blog
Local Politics and Culture, National Politics,
Saturday, November 1, 2008
David's Handy 2008 Election Guide
My election guide this time mentions not only the races and referenda, but also suggests some things to do before you go to the polls, what to take with you, an important thing to check while you're still at the voting machine, some helpful things you could do afterwards, and a good way to track the presidential election returns, if you're into that.
Before You Go
I voted yesterday, in case the lines are as long at my precinct on Tuesday as they have been this week at the local early voting location, the American Fork Library. I was motivated by the weather, which has been gorgeous all week. Tuesday is supposed to be chilly and wet.
If you don't know where to go to vote, the Lieutenant Governor's Office would like to help you. After you've entered your name, birthday, county, and part of your address, it will tell you where to go to vote and also give you a button you can follow for a sample ballot.
Here are some tips for Tuesday:
The Races and Issues
Here, with minimal comment, are the races I was able to vote on and how I voted. If you want more commentary, it's everywhere, including here at the blog, but I'm trying to resist the temptation to hold forth at length here. I will venture some predictions.
Straight Party: I always avoid this, partly because I don't always want to vote just for Republicans, and partly because I think each candidate deserves to have me at least see his or her name on the ballot before I vote (usually) for the candidate from my party.
President/Vice President: There are seven pairs of candidates here, including the two major parties. I voted McCain/Palin, because a moderate is better than a socialist (Obama/Biden), and a third-party vote is wasted. (Prediction: None. I have no idea how this will go.)
US House, District 2: I know some who lean Republican generally but are voting for Democrat Jim Matheson, on the grounds that he is a viable, competent candidate and legislator. I voted for Republican Bill Dew, but I was sorely tempted either not to vote, because the Utah Republican Party can't find someone to run who is a nice guy (Bill Dew), smart (Bill Dew), and a compelling, vigorous candidate (not Bill Dew). I didn't consider voting for Matheson too seriously, because I don't like his (political) relationship with a lady named Nancy Pelosi. There are others on the ballot, yawn. (Prediction: Matheson landslide.)
US House, District 3: If this is your district, you're on your own. I don't get to vote on this one, and therefore I haven't considered it at the level necessary to choose a vote. On one hand, Republican Jason Chaffetz is a shallow opportunist who actually lives in District 2. On the other hand, we don't need more people on Nancy Pelosi's side, do we? There's one other candidate on the ballot, but if Jim Noorlander of the Constitution Party is such hot stuff, he'd do better to pick a major party and try to change it from the inside. (Prediction: Chaffetz victory.)
Utah Governor and Lt. Governor: I voted Huntsman/Herbert. Neither is my favorite Republican -- what's up with Jon Huntsman's global warming gobbledygook? -- but I trust Republicans more with my money and my freedom than I trust Democrats. Have you even heard of the Democratic challenger, Bob Springmeyer? He's a sacrificial lamb; this one was never going to be close. In fact, the only real entertainment in this race -- at least for me -- has been reading the voter's guide statement from the third-party candidate you have heard of, Dell "Superdell" Schanze, formerly of Totally Awesome this-and-that, more recently of my-criminal-charges-are-a-satanic-conspiracy infamy. Here's his statement in the state's official Utah Voter Information Pamphlet:
When God -- I assume he means God -- asks me why I didn't vote for Superdell, I will report with confidence that I opened my mind, but found it to be still working. Besides that, I have a somewhat different definition of insane -- and of socialist, for that matter. (Prediction: Huntsman major landslide.)
Utah Attorney General: I voted for incumbent Republican Mark Shurtleff. He mostly makes sense to me, and he's been a lot smarter about some delicate things in Utah than the folks in Texas have. I have no serious beefs with him. That said, I have no illusions that he's apolitical. (Prediction: Shurtleff win.)
State Treasurer: I voted for Republican Richard K. Ellis, because, as I already said, I trust Republicans with my money more than I trust Democrats -- though I don't trust Republicans completely, either. (Prediction: Ellis win.)
State Auditor: I confess having paid no attention whatsoever to this race. I voted Republican here -- Auston G. Johnson III -- for the same reason that I voted Republican in the race for Treasurer. Before doing do so, I did pause to wonder how wise it is to have Republicans auditing Republicans. (Prediction: Johnson win based on party, because no one else has paid this race any attention, either.)
Utah Senate, District 13: Republican John Valentine is running unopposed, so I guess this was a no-brainer. I have no comment on the other Senate districts, having paid no attention to them. You will see on your ballot only the district that applies to you -- and only half of the districts are up for reelection this year. (Prediction: Republican win by default.)
Utah House, District 27: Incumbent Republican John Dougall is one of my favorite figures in politics. He is intelligent, creative, articulate, conservative, determined to improve education despite union tyranny -- and is noticeably not full of himself. The only downside is that he hasn't blogged in about a year. He has a better opponent this year than he has recently; Democrat Gwyn Franson likes to hide her party, but she's a real Democrat and seems to be motivated by Dougall's advocacy of vouchers. She's running a visible campaign and seems to have quite a few supporters. (Prediction: Dougall win, but not a major landslide.)
I have also expressed the hope that Donald K. Jarvis, a Democrat running in District 63, will win -- in part because he handles his partisan affiliation intelligently and openly, rather than hiding it, and in part because I know him well enough to expect that he will be an excellent legislator.
Utah County Commission: Republican Larry Ellertson is running unopposed. I don't even know him, and apparently that will not matter. (Prediction: Republican win by default.)
State Board of Education, District 12: This is a nonpartisan race. I voted for incumbent Mark Cluff, who supported vouchers and has pushed for sensible math instruction in the state. When people have asked me about this race -- sometimes with their absentee ballots in front of them -- the bit about vouchers has been enough to make up their minds one way or the other. (Prediction: Cluff win, but not a landslide because of voucher backlash.)
Judicial Retention: I have no beef with any of the judges who are up for a yes/no vote, and -- unlike the people in front of me in line at the polls yesterday -- have not asked around. There are some ratings by attorneys in the Utah Voter Information Pamphlet, but they tend to be very high for all judges. I voted yes on all of these, but I almost didn't vote at all on any of them. (Prediction: Yawn.)
Five Amendments to the Utah Constitution: I haven't studied these beyond reading the ballot language and the supplementary material in the Utah Voter Information Pamphlet. None seems controversial, and they all made sense to me, so I voted yes on all five. (Prediction: all pass.)
Five American Fork City Bond Issues: These are much discussed here at the blog and elsewhere. I voted against all five, for reasons I have stated previously. I know a few people who voted already for the cemetery bond, the third on the ballot, and I know someone who voted for two of the five. (Prediction: all fail, but the cemetery bond has the best change of passage among the five.)
While You're Still Standing at the Voting Machine
I find the computerized voting machines easy to use -- but I found punch cards easy to use, too, so I'm not sure it means much. In any case, when the voting machine displays your votes, be sure to review them to make sure they are what you intended. At that point, you can still change votes if you want.
Also be sure you read the printout of your votes on the little spool to the right (on Utah County's voting machines, at least). I'm a computer programmer, and I know that programmers sometimes make technical mistakes -- or moral mistakes, for that matter. One fellow early-voting in Tennessee noticed that his intended presidential vote didn't match the paper record, even after he tried to correct it. I'm sure there will be mistakes here and there across the country, and it's possible there will be some foul play somewhere. Read the paper trail; be sure it doesn't happen to you.
After You Vote
You're not finished yet.
First, wear that "I Voted" sticker with pride. (I mean the good kind of pride. There is one.)
You might consider encouraging your friends, neighbors, and relatives to vote, and offering your opinion about how they should vote, if they ask.
You could offer a ride to the polls for anyone you know who could use it, or you could watch someone's children so he or she can go vote. You could answer the phones at work for a while, so the receptionist can vote. You could even offer to keep someone company in line, if the line is long, or to go fetch pizza or Chinese food.
And you could actually enjoy yourself doing any of this.
If you're into this hard-core and you have time, you could offer yourself to a local campaign or party to do get-out-the-vote phone calls anytime from morning to dinnertime. I've done it; I've also organized it a few times. It's not bad work, and it helps.
After the Polls Close
If you're into following election returns as I am, it's easier than it used to be. I'm waiting until I see which sites are fastest with local returns before I recommend one or two; it seems to differ from election to election. (Check in sometime after 9 p.m. on Tuesday, and I'll try to have posted links.)
For the national election, I'll probably be at RealClearPolitics.com, making my own map of electoral votes. I'll make them all grey, at first, then set them according to the states' returns as they come in. And, yes, I'll probably be crossing my fingers and my toes all evening and half the night.
No matter who wins the White House or how things go for the US Senate and House of Representatives. I thinking seriously that it's time for a new movement. Not a new party, a new movement, which I'll either have to find or create. I'll let you know -- but it might not be before the end of the year.
Heidi Rodeback comments (11/4/08):
SuperDell is borrowing Einstein's definition of insanity: "Doing more of what you are already doing and expecting a different result is a sign of insanity." Very apropos in a state that continually votes Republican. Myself, I voted with confidence for Huntsman, because I do want more of the same. Huntsman has been uncommonly canny in his nurture of the state's economic base, with the result that where the nation's economy is dead at the side of the highway, Utah's is still plugging along (though at reduced speed).
I could gladly have voted for Einstein, but he wasn't on the ballot.
David Rodeback comments (11/4/08):
Einstein wasn't on the ballot, to be sure. But I think the odds are fairly high that he's voting at least once today, perhaps in Chicago, Cleveland, and/or Philadelphia.
Copyright 2008 by David Rodeback.